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The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster & Illustrated by Jules Feiffer

I read a lot of articles about books, because, well, you know, books. One of the articles I read earlier this year was 100 Books to Read Before You Die by New in Books. Every book on the list has in some way shaped literature and they are all, in some way, a classic. Seeing as this year one of my goals was to read more classics, I saved the article, added all of the books to a Goodreads shelf, and wrote them all down. After reading The Phantom Tollbooth, I have now read 13 of the books on the list, so I have some reading to do, but I am excited to read books that are out of my comfort zone and that are well known and will help me become a better reader.

(Source: Kelsey Darling)

Five Sentence Summary

The Phantom Tollbooth is about a young boy named Milo who rushes through everything and is extremely bored with his life; he finds no joy in anything. One evening when he walks into his bedroom he finds a purple tollbooth with a note telling him that it will take him to The Lands Beyond. So Milo jumps in a car, pays the tollbooth and travels to The Lands Beyond where he meets extremely interesting characters like Tock the Watchdog and the Humbug. Together, these 3 travelers go on an adventure to find the missing princesses Rhyme and Reason who are being held captive in The Castle in the Air. Through their journey, they meet interesting people, travel through fascinating lands, and go on perilous adventures in hopes of saving the princesses.

Likes and Dislikes
  • This book is extremely smart. For instance, when you see the land of Conclusions, you automatically jump to conclusions, and it is very hard to get back to the mainland once you've landed in Conclusions. The Mountains of Ignorance are full of demons that hold you back. Norton Juster put a serious amount of work into this book. 
  • The illustrator, Jules Feiffer, really helped make the book. His drawings bring the characters and the lands to life. I don't care that I'm 25 and reading a book with doodles in it; it's such a sweet book.
  • I think my favorite part was when Chroma the Great conducted the sunset. Instead of conducting music, he conducts colors. After Chroma conducts the sunset, he asks Milo to wake him up at 5:23 AM so he can conduct the sunrise. However, Milo decides that he can do it and doesn't wake up Chroma. He starts out just fine, but slowly colors begin to change and distort. The more Milo tries to fix it, the more everything becomes more out of whack. Through Milo's mistake, a whole week goes by and no one knows except Milo and anyone who might have been awake at that time. I love the idea that the skies are conducted; it's such a beautiful thought.
(Source: Giphy)
  • The only down side of the book is that it is clearly a children's book, like maybe for a 12 year old. I think if I had read it for the first time when I was younger, I would have enjoyed it more, but it was still a cute book and I could see myself reading it to my nieces when they are older.
  • The chapters taking place in Digitopolis were a little complex. Just like Milo, math is not my strong suit. But, I do think that my brother, who is a math teacher, would enjoy it.
Wrap Up

The Phantom Tollbooth is extremely well written and adorable. Even though it is geared towards a younger crowd, the adventures that Milo and the gang go on are intriguing. The story definitely makes you think about how you spend your time, how you use your words, the sounds, colors, music, numbers, everything; it is extremely thought provoking. I can tell that Juster put in an extreme amount of effort into this book.

Through all of the lessons that you learn, I think the best one is at the end. Milo and the gang have rescued Rhyme and Reason and now there is a three day festival to celebrate when King Azaz the Unabridged tells Milo about the one thing that they couldn't discuss before the trip: the adventure that Milo went on was completely impossible.

"Yes, indeed," they repeated together; "but if we'd told you then, you might not have gone-and, as you've discovered, so many things are possible just as long as you don't know they're impossible." (p. 247)

As simple as it is, it is an important lesson that everyone should hear and be reminded of occasionally. As the great Audrey Hepburn once said, nothing is impossible, but sometimes we get caught up in the day to day minutia that our dreams get bogged down and we forget what we really want out of life.

(Source: Pinterest)


Rating: 7/10
Pages: 256
Genres: Fantasy, Classics, Childrens 

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